Presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte has complained about the leadership style of Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
In his manifestation during the House’s plenary deliberations on her agency’s proposed 2020 budget, Duterte said he would want to raise the issue with regards to “certain issues and concerns regarding what is happening now in that department.”
“It has come to my attention that there have been several complaints on the management style of Secretary Romulo Puyat, in relation to the approval of contracts and projects in her department,” he added.
Duterte said he would want to raise the issue involving Puyat on the proposed ₱3.8-billion budget of the Tourism department for 2020, but Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano advised him to speak to Puyat personally about his concerns, instead.
“...as part of the pre-plenary conference between agencies of the executive department and the House, our Honorable Speaker deemed it prudent that these issues be threshed out directly with Secretary Romulo Puyat, hence, following the established procedure in the House, I sat down with the Speaker and Secretary Romulo Puyat to discuss my concerns regarding her department,” Duterte said.
Unfortunately, Duterte said the meeting did not go well. “Instead of fixing the mess, it grew bigger,” Duterte said thus he brought the issue to the floor.
Duterte did not give details of the contracts nor the complaints raised against Romulo.
“I wanted to clarify these issues because I believe it is my right and sworn duty as a member of this esteemed chamber to ask questions and thus, interpellate any fellow legislator on the floor,” Duterte said.
“I would be remiss of my duty as a representative of the people of Davao City’s 1st district if I turn a deaf ear to the complaints and grievances that have reached my office regarding the Department of Tourism,” Duterte said.
Duterte added he even got irked when Puyat told the President about the meeting. “Ang buong akala ko ay maganda ang ikakabunga ng aming pag-uusap yun pala ay mauuwi lang sa sumbungan at mga maling paratang laban sa akin at alam niyo na esteemed colleagues kung kanino,” he said, implying that Puyat told his father about it.
Puyat was appointed by Duterte’s father, President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Palace, however, said that the president still trusts Secretary Puyat.
According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the President is “all praises” and “very warm” towards Puyat.
“The industry is good and the stakeholders don’t have complaints with Secretary Berna. Quick to respond and hardworking,” Nograles told Palace reporters.
Nograles, a former lawmaker, said he is unaware of any complaints against Puyat that have reached the President.
“I don’t know if the President and Secretary Berna already talked regarding that but we are all work under the full trust and confidence of the President...But ultimately, we are all answerable to the President,” he said.
Nograles noted the country was visited by more tourists under Puyat’s watch.
The DOT reported a 7.59-percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2019, indicating that the country’s tourism “is on the right track.”
Data released by the department last May showed that 2,204,564 foreign visitors arrived in the country from January to March 2019, higher than the 2,049,094 figures recorded during the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has proposed an additional P1.6-billion budget to finance the institution’s expected increase in personnel and expenses, including those brought on by the appointment of 22 deputy speakers.
This developed as the House is expected to have approved Friday the proposed P4.1-trillion national government budget which House leaders, led by Speaker Cayetano and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said to be “pork-free” money measure.
No pork, no parking (of congressional funds) and no delay [in the passage of budget]. That’s our mantra,” Cayetano said.
During the budget deliberations, Cavite Rep. Bambol Tolentino, chairman of the House accounts committee, made his proposal during the budget deliberations of the General Appropriations Bill for 2020.
The House proposed a P14-billion budget under next year’s budget.
“We did not expect that there will be additional deputy speaker; we did not expect that there will be additional vice chairpersons on [House Committees] on Appropriations and Ways and Means; we did not expect either that there will be newly created committees,” Tolentino said.
“We are talking about all the employees, over 4,000, including those who are in a contractual status, permanents and other employees. Ipinagtatanggol natin ang budget ng different agencies ng pamahalaan. Huwag naman natin kalimutan ipagtanggol din ang budget ng House (We defend the budget of different government agencies and so we should not forget also to defend the budget of the House),” Tolentino added.
Cayetano has named 22 deputy speakers—the highest number in history—and has included the younger Duterte as one of them.
The other deputy speakers were Ferdinand Hernandez of South Cotabato; Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon; Loren Legarda of Antique; Conrado Estrella III of Abono party-list; Prospero Pichay, Jr. of Surigao del Sur; Roberto Puno of Antipolo City; Eddie Villanueva of CIBA Party-list; Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga; Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur; Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur; Raneo Abu of Batangas; Neptali Gonzales II of Mandaluyong; Dan Fernandez of Laguna; Rosemarie Arenas of Pangasinan; Rodante Marcoleta of SAGIP Party-list; Henry Oaminal of Misamis Occidental; Pablo John Garcia of Cebu; Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas; Deogracias Victor Savellano of Ilocos Sur; Mujiv Hataman of Basilan; and Michael Romero of 1-Pacman party-list group.
Given this, Tolentino said “there are a lot of increase in the expenses for 2020 for equipment, new offices for additional deputy speakers, and a lot of expenses really.”
Under ousted Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, there were 18 deputy speakers, a number that exceeded what is allowed under Section 31 of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
This section of the House rules provides that the chamber should have 14 deputy speakers, 10 deputy majority leaders, and seven deputy minority leaders.
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